'Known by the company it keeps': Popularizing Seagram's in the Canadian Imagination

Type of resource
'Known by the company it keeps': Popularizing Seagram's in the Canadian Imagination
The author points out that the expansion of print media and cultural nationalism in Canada was fortuitous for the Montreal-based Seagram Company distillery, owned by the Bronfman family, which linked promotions of Canadian whisky to the evolving nation-building effort. She argues that Seagram's advertisements appearing in popular magazines, as well as branded material culture, helped to naturalize the narratives of Canadian patrimony that were being produced by the artistic and intellectual elite in the early part of the twentieth century. She notes that the increasing cultural democracy in the postwar period allowed Seagram's greater participation in Canadian boosterism while linking consumption of their brands to moral uplift and middlebrow aspiration. The author contends that Seagram's advertisements, product names and design were embeded within the popular imaginary the dominant narratives, iconographies and distortions of imperialism and nascent Canadian nationalism with the keen vision of aspirational outsiders. Furthermore, she points out, Seagram's rapidly expanding multinational presence and diversifying product line also offered Canadians a cosmopolitan consumerism from which to explore acquaintance with the cultural unknown and experiment with a popular questioning of Canada's place and identity in a transforming international landscape. The author argues that these marketing techniques served to obscure the contentious nature of both alcohol and the Bronfman fortune while at the same time securing the Seagram Company an active role within a national cultural industry. The Seagram brand assumed an increasingly visible role and contested symbolic currency in Quebec following the Quiet Revolution. The author maintains that this promoted Seagram's efforts towards a rebranding while the company also worked fervently to maintain Canadian hegemony in the province.
PhD dissertation
McGill University
# of Pages
Sumner, Lisa. “‘Known by the Company It Keeps’: Popularizing Seagram’s in the Canadian Imagination.” PhD dissertation, McGill University, 2009. https://escholarship.mcgill.ca/concern/theses/wh246s49x?locale=en.
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